Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Interview with John Dowling - CEO of Boast

For 2012, I decided to conduct some interviews of those who inspired me last year in order to find out the origin of their brands and what's in store for the upcoming year. First up: John Dowling, CEO of Boast.

John Dowling

Q: When were you first introduced to Boast?

A: For me, it was at All-American Sports' tennis camp at Deerfield Academy, the summer of 1983. I was 11. My mom sent me off with several Lacoste polos, but I envied the older campers in band t-shirts (The Clash, The English Beat, etc). Then there were those that wore broken-in sun-faded Boast shirts. Boast stood apart. It was an original choice and had an edge to it, whereas Ralph Lauren and Lacoste polos were ubiquitous and a little spiffier. Next summer I asked my mom to buy me Boast. My first was a navy on white pinstripe.

Q: Why did you want to revive the brand?

A: I was just watching from afar while a close friend investigated the idea. It occurred to my partner Alex Tiger that while Boast apparel was available in pro shops with club logos, the leaf had seemingly disappeared. Alex tracked down Bill St. John, Boast's founder, and his company, in Palm Beach County. At first I think Alex just wanted to see if he could still buy a few shirts. Alex eventually met with Bill to discuss reviving the brand with some partners. As for me, I was a big fan of the idea and on the sidelines, until Alex invited me to join a trip to Florida to meet Bill.

Bill St. John

Q: Is it true that one of you played the founder in a tennis match?

A: Alex did. Alex is an excellent tennis and squash player and of course Bill is too. They played while they were still negotiating a partnership. Bill definitely liked the fact that he was dealing with an avid racquet sports guy. Alex also correctly guessed that Bill was the type to appreciate a fine bottle of red wine.

Q: How did Andy Spade become involved with marketing?

A: We were encouraged by a friend and mentor to call Andy up. I couldn't imagine anyone better suited to honing the brand message than Andy Spade. It seemed right up his alley. Still, I was surprised when he took the call, and fortunately, he was a fan of the idea. Two days later we were discussing a collaboration over a beers in New York.

Q: What was it like working with Spade? What's the creative process?

A: Andy's company, Partners & Spade serves as creative brand consultant and ad agency for its clients. Our challenge was to reintroduce Boast to consumers while setting it apart from other brands. We talked a lot about what the brand means to us all. I pulled together a booklet distilling what the brand meant to our team and generation, using personal recollections and photos form the Eighties. We sought to define the Boast guy and Boast girl. That grew into a pitch-perfect brand book from Partners & Spade. We use it to introduce the brand, and people often ask if they can by it. The animated Boast history video on our web site perfectly communicates Boast's attitude, its edge. Andy and his partner, Anthony Sperduti, do a great job defining the essence of a brand through photography, graphic design and clever copywriting. Their aesthetic is unique and appropriate for us.

Q: Tell me about how the shirts are made?

A: The classic Boast pique polo is made from hand-picked, Peruvian long staple cotton with real troca shell buttons on a two-button placket. The iconic Japanese maple leaf embroidery is done shirt by shirt by our embroidery team at Boast's home in Riviera Beach, Florida in Palm Beach County.

Q: How did you decide on the other pieces to round out the collection?

A: We look to traditional Boast styles to fill out the line and dream up new ones, all in keeping with the Boast sport and leisure lifestyle.

Q: What can we expect from the future from Boast?

A: More top-quality apparel and accessories in the Boast spirit. We'll have you covered both on the court and off, wherever your weekend takes you.


  1. Thanks for this interview. Keep up the good work as your blog is quietly outpacing the others in fresh ideas and original content.


  2. Skip, this is excellent work. Great start to 2012!

  3. Interviewing interesting people is fantastic. you did a fantastic job.

  4. Good narrative here Skip. As always, I'm looking forward to what's next.

  5. Skip: When you have a moment, would you mind terribly taking a look at my blog?

  6. So good Skip! You did you on this one man. More please!